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When Did Humans Get To America? New Find Pushes Debate Back 100k Years

1 hour 52 min ago

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Scientists like to argue over when humans first got to the Americas — and the debate might be heating up again. A new study claims early humans were in North America 130,000 years ago — far earlier than any other estimate.

"My first reaction on reading the paper was 'No, this is wrong; something's wrong,'" said John McNabb, an archaeologist at the University of Southampton.

In 1992, construction workers uncovered mastodon bones and nearby rocks buried in a layer of silt. The bones show impacts from hard objects, and the rocks appear to have broken apart from a single larger one. Also, radioactive dating now shows the bones are about 130,000 years old.

The researchers argue the stones might have been used as hammers and anvils to break the bones apart — meaning tool-users could have been spreading across the planet about six times earlier than we thought.

"They're going to think, 'This is crazy; this is outrageous,'" said paleontologist and research author Thomas Deméré.

The prevailing view is no human ancestors were in the Americas until they crossed a land bridge between Asia and Alaska, anywhere from about 13,000 to 22,000 years ago. And every time a new finding like this pops up and revises that arrival date, the debate reignites.

SEE MORE: Capuchins Put A Monkey Wrench In Our Knowledge Of Early Human Tool Use

And there's plenty to be skeptical about with this new find. The rocks fit together, but researchers can't say for sure if they were broken apart to be used as tools. There's no evidence nearby of other tools with sharp edges.

But if the dates are accurate, the find has implications not just for humans in America, but also for the whole history of human migration. It means tool-users were all over the planet when modern humans were just leaving Africa.

So the researchers are excited — but they can't be positive yet. They say until someone finds better evidence — like skeletal remains of early humans — we won't know for sure. And if we do find that evidence, you can expect the debate to be fierce.

United Airlines Under Fire Again After Giant Rabbit Dies On Flight

2 hours 29 min ago

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United Airlines is dealing with yet another PR nightmare after a valuable giant rabbit died on board one of its flights.

The bunny was a 3-foot Continental Giant rabbit named Simon.

Simon's owner, breeder Annette Edwards, told NBC the 10-month-old rabbit was on track to grow even bigger than his famous father, Darius.

Back in 2010, Darius was certified by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's longest rabbit.

SEE MORE: United Airlines CEO's Promotion Isn't Going As Planned

Edwards shipped Simon in the plane's cargo hold from London to Chicago for his new "celebrity" owner. 

When pets ride in a plane's cargo hold, the compartment is pressurized and climate controlled.

Edwards says Simon went to the vet just hours before the flight, and he was "fit as a fiddle." It's still unclear exactly what caused the rabbit's death.

But a United spokesperson told The Guardian the airline was "saddened" to hear the news and is currently reviewing the matter.

This latest incident comes just a few weeks after video showing a passenger being dragged off a United flight sparked outrage around the world. The airline has since apologized.

A New Executive Order Could Put Some National Monuments At Risk

3 hours 14 min ago

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President Donald Trump might be looking to get rid of a national monument or two.

He signed an executive order Wednesday, ordering the Department of the Interior to review monument designations made in the past 21 years that are at least 100,000 acres.

That dates back to when Bill Clinton was in office. Since 1996, former presidents have named 54 national monuments.

They were all designated under the Antiquities Act of 1906, which authorized president to establish historic landmarks or structures on federal lands as national monuments.

On Wednesday, Trump said previous administrations abused the Antiquities Act.

SEE MORE: Trump Signs Two New Executive Orders On Trade

His predecessor, Barack Obama, used the act more than any other U.S. president. He protected more than 553 million acres of public land and water during his tenure.

That includes his last-minute designation of the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah. But some lawmakers saw Obama's actions as an overreach of power and have asked Trump to reverse the designation.

Woodrow Wilson once changed the size of a national monument established by Theodore Roosevelt, but no president has ever completely removed a designation before.

The U.S. Constitution gives Congress that power, but the Trump administration could resize an existing monument without congressional approval.

Canada Is Testing Prospective Astronauts — And It's Pretty Intense

4 hours 44 min ago

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What's the secret to becoming an astronaut in Canada? Don't die during recruitment.

OK, that's a little dramatic, but the Canadian Space Agency is having its fourth round of recruitment since the beginning of the program — and the process is pretty intense.

The pool has been trimmed from over 3,000 applicants down to 17. Those 17 people have undergone extremely stressful physical and mental tests to make it this far.

For example: Candidates had to escape from a submerged cage, jump several meters down into rough waters, and work with peers to put out fires and stop leaks in close quarters.

SEE MORE: SpaceX Is Launching A Recycled Rocket

They've also endured standard physical tests like running and swimming, mental tasks, and teamwork challenges.

The point of all this is to see how the prospective astronauts respond under pressure, and if they have the personality to keep it together.

Those who remain are competing for two open spots on the Canadian astronaut corps. CSA will pick the new space explorers by August.

France Says It Has Proof Syrian Government Was Behind Chemical Attack

4 hours 46 min ago

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France says it has proof Syrian President Bashar al-Assad ordered the deadly chemical attack in a rebel-held town.

France's foreign minister says the proof is in the chemical makeup. The April 4 attack killed dozens of people, and the gas used matched samples from a 2013 chemical attack that killed more than 1,400.

The minister said: "We have definite sources that the procedure used to make the sarin [gas] sampled is typical of the methods developed in Syrian laboratories. This method bears the signature of the regime."

SEE MORE: Russia Blocks The UN From Investigating Syrian Chemical Attack

The 2013 attack was connected to the Syrian government using U.S. intelligence recordings, which picked up the entire process, from preparations to assessing the aftermath.

An official told CNN that U.S. intelligence agencies again intercepted communications between Syrian officials and chemical experts before the April 4 attack.

The US Air Force Just Tested A Ballistic Missile

5 hours 43 min ago

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The U.S. Air Force tested an unarmed intercontinental ballistic missile early Wednesday morning in California. 

The Minuteman III missiles are tested about four times a year. The last one occurred in February. 

The launches ensure the missiles are still operating properly, and they show off the country's nuclear capabilities. 

Wednesday's test just so happens to coincide with rising tensions over North Korea's recent missile tests. 

North Korea has conducted numerous test launches in 2017. The latest one occurred April 16, and it exploded only seconds after launching. 

SEE MORE: N. Korea Celebrated Its Founder By Showing Off A Bunch Of Missiles

All 100 U.S. Senators were invited to a White House briefing on North Korea on Wednesday. 

The U.S. currently has about 450 Minuteman III missiles in its arsenal. 

Wednesday's missile launch took place at Vandenberg Air Force Base.

Pope Francis Urges Leaders To Act 'Humbly' In His First TED Talk

6 hours 9 min ago

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Pope Francis gave the very first papal TED Talk on Tuesday. 

"The more powerful you are, the more your actions will have an impact on people, the more responsible you are to act humbly," Pope Francis said.

And he had an important message for people in positions of power around the world.

"You will end up hurting yourself and those around you if you don't connect your power with humility and tenderness," the pope said.

During his speech, the pope also emphasized that we all need each other, and the only way to build the future is to stand together.

SEE MORE: Pope Francis Goes Off-Script At Easter Mass, Addressing World Conflict

The pope's talk was a surprise addition to the TED 2017 conference lineup, which included tennis star Serena Williams, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim and journalist Gayle King.

And it apparently took some convincing to get him to speak. 

The international curator who organized the pope's talk told The Washington Post it took more than a year of asking and several trips to Rome to seal the deal.

Pope Francis' TED appearance came as he prepared to visit Egypt as part of an effort to reach out to Muslims and improve relations between their faiths.

Next Up For Uber: Flying Cars

6 hours 26 min ago

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Uber plans to start testing flying cars by 2020.

Well, they'll most likely be vertical takeoff and landing aircraft, or VTOLs.

The ride-sharing company announced its plans Tuesday during the opening of its three-day Elevate Summit

Uber initially unveiled Elevate, its vision for on-demand urban air transportation, in October. But its announcement Tuesday gave us the when, where and how.

SEE MORE: You Could Own This Awesome Flying Car A Lot Sooner Than You Think

Testing of the airborne ride-sharing will initially take place in Dallas-Fort Worth and Dubai. 

The decision to test in Dubai isn't that surprising. The city has been at the forefront of transportation advancement. It has a goal of making 25 percent of trips within the city driverless by 2030. And it will play host to the 2020 World Expo, where Uber hopes to get its demo off the ground.

Uber also announced it has partnered with various companies — ranging from aircraft manufacturers to a company that makes electric car chargers — to make Elevate a reality.

Tuesday's announcement provided a distraction for the company, which has been in the news for all the wrong reasons, including losing multiple executives within weeks and using software to identify app users who were trying to prove the company was operating illegally.

The US And Canada Are Fighting About Milk And Wood — Again

17 hours 19 min ago

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U.S. milk and Canadian wood are driving the two North American nations toward a potential trade war.

The U.S. recently slapped a steep tariff on Canada's softwood lumber exports after Canada added more U.S. dairy products to its list of heavily tariffed goods. Producers in both industries are worried about losing jobs.

As Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross observed: "It has been a bad week for U.S.-Canada trade relations. ... This is not our idea of a properly functioning Free Trade Agreement."

SEE MORE: Parts Of Canada Will Soon Experiment With Basic Income

The tariffs are new, but the debates fueling them are pretty old. And they could have dire implications for the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA.

For decades, U.S. lumber companies have been complaining that Canadian companies have an unfair advantage — their timber largely comes from publicly owned land maintained by the government.

Canada has successfully defended its policies in the past, but President Trump's Commerce Department still found Canada was unfairly subsidizing lumber exports — and will start charging Canadian lumber anywhere from 3 to 24 percent more when it crosses the border.

Those tariffs are high, but not as high as the astronomical ones Canada imposes on dairy imports to protect its domestic market from the U.S. glut.

Some products, like ultra-filtered milk, were able to get around that restriction — until Canada reclassified those products under its heavy tariffs.

NAFTA doesn't cover Canada's dairy industry, and its dispute panels have consistently favored Canada on the softwood issue. So these recent trade fights aren't endearing the agreement to its No. 1 critic — President Trump.

Trump said during a speech: "In Canada, some very unfair things have happened to our dairy farmers and others, and we're going to start working on that. ... The fact is, NAFTA has been a complete and total disaster for the United States — a complete and total disaster."

The US Owes Mexico Hundreds Of Millions Of Dollars Because Of Tuna

17 hours 33 min ago

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The U.S. owes Mexico $163 million a year, according to the World Trade Organization. 

That's because the U.S. had been penalizing Mexico over tuna — claiming the product from Mexico wasn't "dolphin safe," which means no dolphins were killed by the fishermen. 

Mexico challenged that with the WTO, claiming its fishermen followed all international rules and regulations. 

The WTO agreed and ruled that Mexico could place trade sanctions on the U.S. of up to $163 million a year, enough to make up Mexico's estimated loss. 

The additional tariffs won't add much to the nearly $50 billion trade deficit the U.S. already holds with Mexico. But the ruling is a political black eye for President Trump, who still insists Mexico will pay for a border wall between it and the U.S.

SEE MORE: Mexico Is The First Country In The Americas To Eliminate This Disease

And the WTO order is another wrinkle in Trump's plans to get a better trade deal with Mexico by renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA.

Russian Hackers Reportedly Tried To Interfere With France's Election

18 hours 56 min ago

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The front-runner in France's presidential election has reportedly been targeted by hackers believed to be working for Russia.

A cybersecurity firm discovered that someone tried to trick members of Emmanuel Macron's campaign into sending them sensitive information. The campaign said the attempts were unsuccessful.

The hackers reportedly sent out emails from accounts that looked a lot like official ones. That's the same "phishing" tactic that was used to hack Hillary Clinton's campaign staff. 

European and American intelligence both concluded that Russia was responsible for hacking the Democratic National Committee in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

SEE MORE: Everything You Need To Know About France's Presidential Election

Macron is squaring off against far-right candidate Marine Le Pen in the final round of the French election. Russian state media has praised Le Pen for her anti-European Union policies.

Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, denied responsibility for the hack and said Russia had no reason to want Macron to lose. But Le Pen met with Putin in March and said she wanted to remove EU sanctions against Russia.

Ukraine On Edge

Tue, 04/25/2017 - 23:35

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In this special report, Newsy's Liz Wahl travels across Ukraine to see how the embattled country is faring in its long war with pro-Russian separatists and how new American leadership could shape the conflict.

After protests in 2014 pushed out Ukraine's then-president, backed by Russia's Vladimir Putin, the country's pro-Europe factions have been under constant military and economic pressure from Russia. Corruption is still rampant. People are frustrated — at the state of the economy and that reforms aren't happening fast enough. And now a new worry: the uncertainty of working with new American leadership that has put Eastern Europe on edge.

Flynn's Foreign Payments May Have Broken The Law

Tue, 04/25/2017 - 23:30

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Leaders of the House Oversight Committee say retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn apparently didn't seek or get permission to give a paid speech for a Russian government-owned TV station in 2015. They also say Flynn didn't disclose the payment one month later when he tried to get his security clearance renewed.

"Personally, I see no information or no data to support the notion that Gen. Flynn complied with the law," Rep. Jason Chaffetz said Tuesday. 

Flynn, who President Trump fired from his post as national security adviser in February, was paid $45,000 for the speech.

Addressing reporters after a classified briefing Tuesday, House Oversight Committee Chairman  Chaffetz said Flynn would have needed permission from the secretaries of state and defense. Neither department has been able to provide information showing Flynn did try to get that permission.

Last month, Flynn retroactively filed as a foreign agent for over $500,000 worth of lobbying work he and his firm did that "could be construed to have principally benefited the Republic of Turkey." The work was conducted in the summer and fall of 2016, when Flynn was also an adviser to the Trump campaign.

"As a former military officer, you simply cannot take money from Russia, Turkey or anybody else. And it appears as if he did take that money. It was inappropriate and there are repercussions for that violation of law," Chaffetz said.  

SEE MORE: Mike Flynn Isn't Getting Immunity From Prosecution — At Least Not Yet

The committee has sought more information, including documents related to the Trump administration's vetting of Flynn for the national security adviser position and his subsequent firing.

"The White House has refused to provide this committee with a single piece of paper in response to our bipartisan request, and that's simply unacceptable," ranking member Elijah Cummings told reporters. 

The White House, in a letter to the committee, said the documents requested were either held at other agencies, predated Flynn's employment at the White House or contained information that was "sensitive." But that response has raised more questions.

"But you're acting as if you had no custodial or ethical responsibility of your own transition," CBS' Major Garrett said.

"... Right now, to ask the White House to produce documents that were not in the possession of the White House is ridiculous," White House press secretary Sean Spicer said.

Meanwhile, Flynn's attorney said in a statement that Flynn "briefed the Defense Intelligence Agency ... extensively" about his visit "before and after the trip."

Judge Blocks Order From Causing 'Irreparable Harm' To Sanctuary Cities

Tue, 04/25/2017 - 23:30

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federal judge in California has blocked President Donald Trump's order intended to withhold federal funding from so-called sanctuary cities. 

U.S. District Judge William H. Orrick granted the injunction Tuesday, blocking enforcement of the executive order Trump signed on Jan. 25. 

The U.S. Department of Justice sent nine letters to local governments last week, urging them to comply with federal immigration laws or risk losing law enforcement grants.

The injunction doesn't stop the DOJ from withholding money from communities that don't comply with federal laws, but the Justice Department can't enforce Trump's order "in a way that violates the Constitution."

SEE MORE: Here's Why You Keep Hearing About 'Sanctuary Cities'

That means the judge didn't rule the order itself was unconstitutional; his injunction just protects sanctuary areas from any potentially unconstitutional lapses in federal funding while the case is being heard.

Ivanka Trump Was Booed On Her First Official International Trip

Tue, 04/25/2017 - 21:51

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Ivanka Trump tried to defend her father's efforts to help women and families at a summit in Berlin. It didn't go well.

"He's been a tremendous champion of supporting families and enabling them to thrive," Ivanka Trump said before the crowd at the Women20 Summit started groaning and hissing.

"You hear the reaction from the audience," one of the panelists said.

Ivanka Trump was taking part in the Women20 Summit, a meeting of 20 major countries designed to help women's economic participation across the world.

It's not a surprise President Donald Trump would be an unpopular figure at a women's conference. Trump insulted the appearance of opponent Carly Fiorina and Ted Cruz's wife on the campaign trail, and was caught in a scandal after an old tape surfaced of him bragging about grabbing women's genitals without their consent.

SEE MORE: Ivanka Trump To Become Official Government Employee

While in the private sector, Donald Trump said pregnancies were bad for employers.

"It is an inconvenience for a person that is running a business," Trump said in a 2004 interview.

Donald Trump has made some gestures toward gender equality since taking office: He set up a joint council with Canada to help women entrepreneurs and hosted a women's empowerment panel at the White House.

Ivanka Trump said some of her father's policies could help women, but some women entrepreneurs noted that the White House's isolationist policies could make it tough for some women to break into international markets.

Ivanka Trump also mentioned the need for better child care policies in the U.S. She helped create a child care policy for the Trump campaign, but it hasn't been acted on so far and likely wouldn't do much to help families in need.

The plan would provide tax deductions instead of money to spend, benefiting wealthy families who pay higher taxes. A report found 70 percent of the benefits of Trump's plan would go to families making at least $100,000 per year.

Doctors Develop Innovative Way To Save Babies Born Prematurely

Tue, 04/25/2017 - 21:42

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Doctors hope they've figured out a way to keep extremely premature infants alive and healthy — by placing them in an artificial womb

Babies born extremely prematurely, or before 28 weeks, make up a third of all infant deaths in the U.S. And in those that survive, organ immaturity can lead to severe conditions like lung disease.

So doctors at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia rethought the way they cared for preemies. Instead of treating them like a fully developed baby, they created a device that simulated a mother's womb. 

The first test was done with fetal lambs, which closely resemble human fetuses. A device pumped oxygen-rich blood to the fetus and removed CO2, just as a mother's placenta would. 

The fetus is surrounded by a synthetic amniotic fluid and uses it to "breathe" in and out, which helps lung development.

SEE MORE: Meet The Goats Of Anarchy: A Rescue Farm For Baby Goats

Human trials are still a few years away, but ethical and political concerns have already been raised, including the potential implications for abortion laws and maternity rights. 

Cutting Funding For UN Agencies Could Actually Hurt The US

Tue, 04/25/2017 - 19:46

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The U.S. plans to cut deep into its funding for the United Nations — but that move could end up costing more in the long run.

"The amount that could really be saved is a speck compared with overall U.S. spending," says Richard Gowan, senior policy fellow for the European Council on Foreign Relations.

Three experts told Newsy why it's actually in the U.S.' national interest to continue its historically strong support for the United Nations.

For starters, the U.N. helps the United States save on military costs. By using U.N. peacekeepers, the U.S. often doesn't have to put its own military on the ground for missions in some of the world's most dangerous conflicts.

"Peacekeepers are much less costlier because states share the burden," says Bryce Reeder, a political science professor at the University of Missouri. "It's not one actor; it's all these actors coming together."

The Trump administration's preliminary budget includes cuts to funding for U.N. peacekeeping missions and gives a hefty boost to U.S. defense spending.

SEE MORE: Military Wins, EPA And State Department Lose In Trump's First Budget

"But even at a broader level, the United Nations provides for security in very important regions around the world where American soldiers are already deployed," says Peter Yeo, who's with the Better World Campaign and the United Nations Foundation. "So we've got to have the U.N. working in partnership with United States and the U.S. military to advance our objectives."

One of those objectives is keeping countries outside the U.S. stable, which likely means fewer issues in the long run.

"One thing about conflict is, conflicts recur. ... I’m actually one that would argue that aid agencies and that sort of efforts need to be present for a significant period of time to prevent a relapse," Reeder says.

And where there are conflicts, there are people fleeing those conflicts. Gowan says the best approach is having the U.N. help refugees in regions where they originally lived, like Africa and the Middle East.

"If the U.N. was not there, that would mean more people trying to get into Europe and there would be more demands for the U.S. to take in refugees," Gowan says.

The Trump administration has not been a fan of refugee resettlement. An executive order from the president aims to cut the resettlement numbers in the U.S. by 50 percent. It got tied up in court.

Keeping countries stable can also hinder terrorism groups.

"Ultimately, the way to keep young people out of ISIS is to ensure that they have hope and opportunity," Yeo says. "... The United Nations, in partnership with the U.S. foreign aid program, is a crucial element in providing that type of hope — to create jobs, it makes sure kids can stay in school."

SEE MORE: How Politics Play A Role In Cycles Of Drought And Famine

Other world powers might also move to fill in the gaps created by U.S. funding cuts to the U.N.

"That means countries like China and Russia, which don't necessarily share our viewpoints about global issues, will fill the gap," Yeo says.

Of course the U.N. has its fair share of issues that need to be addressed, but it has a reach that's hard to compete with.

"It's nice to think that NGO's could fill that gap," Gowan says. "It's nice to think that charities could fill that gap. But to be honest, in that sort of complex emergency, where violence is prevalent, where there are often major threats to aid workers, really, the U.N. is one of the few actors that can function credibly."

And there's some skepticism if Congress will actually approve the cuts.

"It's dead on arrival," Sen. Lindsay Graham told reporters in February. "It's not going to happen. It would be a disaster. If you take soft power off the table, then you're never going to win the war."

A bill introduced in the House in January aims to have the U.S. pull out of the U.N. completely. But since then, not much has happened with it.

Trump's budget is still being hammered out, but some cuts have already happened. In April, the U.S. eliminated its funding for the U.N. Population Fund. That affects women in over 150 countries.

As for the peacekeeping funding, 2017's budget expires in June.

It could be months before Congress actually decides on what other U.N. agencies may see a cut.

Why People Are Actually Paying For Music Again

Tue, 04/25/2017 - 18:56

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The music industry seems to be getting back on its feet, thanks in large part to people paying to stream songs.

An annual recording industry report says global music revenues jumped 6 percent in 2016.

That might not seem like a big deal, but keep in mind this is only the second year in a row they've increased. Before that, revenues were pretty much plummeting for 15 years straight.

It's no secret in today's digital world, you can listen to music for free. Still, by the end of last year, 112 million listeners paid for streaming services.

SEE MORE: Streaming Is The New No. 1 Way To Listen To Music In The US

Last year was the first time that digital music represented half of the industry's revenue.

That's not to say artists and investors don't still see problems.

Sites like YouTube, where anyone can upload videos, are being called out as "safe harbors" for copyright infringement.

And the report noted places like YouTube gave artists and record companies about an eighth of what they got in royalties from streaming services — even though YouTube has something like five times as many users.

We Might Be Underestimating Opioid-Related Deaths In The US

Tue, 04/25/2017 - 18:55

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Across the country, more than 90 people die every day of an opioid overdose, but the crisis might be even worse than we know.

Researchers looked at unexplained death records from the Minnesota Department of Health. Specifically, they looked at toxicology screenings in deaths marked as pneumonia and other infectious diseases for traces of opioids.

Between 2006 and 2015 they found 59 reports that showed evidence of opioid use in the deceased. Twenty-two deaths involved toxic levels.

Problem is, the death records didn't reflect that. Instead, they were filed under infectious diseases with no clear cause of death.

SEE MORE: One Senator Is Going After Big Pharma Over The Opioid Epidemic

Opioids are sometimes used to relieve pain, but they can also weaken the immune system and complicate infections.

There's no way to tell how many deaths with links to opioid use are sliding under the radar. Still, the researchers hope these findings will help inform people of risks and further prevention efforts.

A Texas Lawmaker Is Going On A Hunger Strike To Protest A Bill

Tue, 04/25/2017 - 18:02

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Texas state Rep. Victoria Neave is on a hunger strike.

She's protesting a bill that advocates of "sanctuary cities" oppose.

Neave began fasting Sunday after she went to church in Dallas. And she says she won't eat anything until Wednesday, when Senate Bill 4 goes up for debate in the Texas House.

SEE MORE: Over 700 Immigration Detainees Went On A Hunger Strike

Under the legislation, cities, counties and universities could no longer adopt so-called sanctuary policies. Those policies prohibit local law enforcement from asking about a person's immigration status or enforcing immigration law.

The bill's supporters say it would help promote consistency across local law enforcement agencies and prevent jailed undocumented immigrants from being released.

But Neave told local media she's worried the legislation will make immigrants afraid to report crimes or testify in court.

The bill has already made its way through the Texas Senate, and Neave says opponents of the legislation are outnumbered in the House.